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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 10146

Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (18:07): I'll give a basic explanation very quickly to ensure that I'm on the same page as you. You're right—the measure will introduce a new compliance framework to replace existing compliance arrangements for all jobseekers except, as you know, those in the CDP. As you know, all jobseekers commence in the personal responsibility phase, which we're calling the demerits phase. Every failure without reasonable excuse will result in payment suspension until re-engagement and the accrual of demerit but no actual penalty. If a jobseeker accrues four demerits in six months, they will enter the intensive compliance phase—that is, the three-strikes phase—in which they will face stronger penalties. This begins with the loss of half their fortnightly payment for their first failure without reasonable excuse. It then progresses to loss of all of their fortnightly payment for their second failure and payment cancellation for four weeks for their third job failure.

Jobseekers in the three-strikes phase who remain fully compliant for three months will return to the demerits phase. In either phase, any jobseeker who refuses work without a valid reason will have their payment cancelled for four weeks in recognition of the seriousness of this. To ensure that genuine jobseekers who simply are having difficulty meeting their requirements do not enter the three-strikes phase, their provider will assess their capability and requirements after their third demerit, and DHS will also do so after their fourth. At either point, if they are found to be unable to meet the requirements, those requirements will be reset, and they will return to the demerits phase.